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ACTION ALERT: No US Airstrikes on Syria; Poll Shows Americans Opposed to More War


August 29, 2013
Peace Action West & Reuters

We've learned this lesson before: a rush to war is always a mistake. And now, suddenly, we're told another US use of military force could happen later this week. The scenes from Syria remind us that chemical weapons are horrific weapons that should never be used. But as four US warships speed towards Syria we need Congress to carefully consider the use of military force.

http://www.peaceactionwest.org/

ACTION ALERT: No US Airstrikes on Syria
Peace Action West

(August 28, 2013) -- We've learned this lesson before: a rush to war is always a mistake. And now, suddenly, we're told another US use of military force could happen later this week.

The scenes from Syria remind us that chemical weapons are horrific weapons that should never be used. But as four US warships speed towards Syria we need Congress to carefully consider the use of military force.

Click here to tell your representatives to have a full debate of the alternatives before it is too late.

In response to the chemical attacks, the US should call for bringing the perpetrators to justice, and aggressively use diplomatic, economic, and humanitarian tools to end the bloodshed and protect the innocent.

However, a poorly conceived US attack on Syria could actually lead to the slaughter of more civilians just as sudden outside intervention has in other armed conflicts. The chemical attacks are a small fraction of the bloodshed happening in Syria right now, and polls show that the majority of war-weary Americans oppose US intervention in Syria.

Please contact Congress right now and ask for a debate about the right approach in Syria. Congress should fully air the alternatives before missles are launched.

To defuse the rush to war, Congress must ask:

* How can we be sure that military strikes won't kill the very civilians we are trying protect? Will we kill hundreds or thousands of civilians to show the world that killing civilians is wrong?

* Are there any diplomatic, economic or humanitarian alternatives to military intervention?

* What are the potential ways in which this action could backfire?

The use of military force is arguably the most solemn decision a US politician can make. Now is not the time for rushed decisions. Urge your representatives to ask for a full debate of all the alternatives before a it is too late, and the missiles are launched.

Thank you for speaking up for peaceful alternatives,
Jon Rainwater / Executive Director
Peace Action West • 2201 Broadway, Ste 321 Oakland, CA 94612. 800.949.9020



As Syria War Escalates, Americans
Cool to US Intervention: Reuters/Ipsos Poll

Lesley Wroughton / Reuters

WASHINGTON ((August 24, 2013) -- Americans strongly oppose US intervention in Syria's civil war and believe Washington should stay out of the conflict even if reports that Syria's government used deadly chemicals to attack civilians are confirmed, a Reuters/Ipsos poll says.

About 60 percent of Americans surveyed said the United States should not intervene in Syria's civil war, while just 9 percent thought President Barack Obama should act.

More Americans would back intervention if it is established that chemical weapons have been used, but even that support has dipped in recent days -- just as Syria's civil war has escalated and the images of hundreds of civilians allegedly killed by chemicals appeared on television screens and the Internet.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll, taken August 19-23, found that 25 percent of Americans would support US intervention if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces used chemicals to attack civilians, while 46 percent would oppose it. That represented a decline in backing for US action since August 13, when Reuters/Ipsos tracking polls found that 30.2 percent of Americans supported intervention in Syria if chemicals had been used, while 41.6 percent did not.

Taken together, the polls suggest that so far, the growing crisis in Syria, and the emotionally wrenching pictures from an alleged chemical attack in a Damascus suburb this week, may actually be hardening many Americans' resolve not to get involved in another conflict in the Middle East.

The results -- and Reuters/Ipsos polling on the use-of-chemicals question since early June -- suggest that if Obama decides to undertake military action against Assad's regime, he will do so in the face of steady opposition from an American public wary after more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Some foreign and US officials -- notably Republican Senator John McCain, whom Obama defeated for the presidency in 2008 -- have called Obama too hesitant in deciding whether to act in Syria. But several Americans surveyed in this week's poll, including Charles Kohls, 68, a former US military officer from Maryland, praised Obama's caution.

"The United States has become too much of the world's policeman and we have become involved in too many places that should be a United Nations realm, not ours," Kohls said in an interview. "I don't think we ought to" intervene in Syria.

Kohls said the possibility of a chemical attack did not alter his belief that the United States should stay out of Syria, or any war for that matter.

CROSSING THE 'RED LINE'
Obama has called the suspected chemical attack near Damascus on Wednesday "an event of great concern" and directed US intelligence agencies to investigate the allegations of chemical use as he weighs potential responses.

The president met with his national security advisers on Saturday but US officials said he has not decided whether to intervene.

US defense officials, meanwhile, have repositioned naval forces in the Mediterranean to give Obama the option for a missile strike on Assad's regime, which has been backed by Russia and China.

Obama has been reluctant to intervene in the Syria war, where rebel forces opposed to Assad are made up of dozens of militant factions, some not friendly to the United States.

The president warned Syria's government last year that any attempt to deploy or use chemical or biological weapons would cross a "red line."

The White House said that Assad's military appeared to cross such a threshold in June, and responded to reports of Syrian troops using chemical weapons by agreeing to offer military aid to vetted groups of Syrian rebels.

It does not appear that any US weapons have been delivered to rebels so far. As the war has escalated, Obama's administration has come under increasing pressure from various governments, including those in France and Israel, to respond more forcefully to what many have called an unfolding humanitarian and political crisis.

LIKE OBAMA, AMERICANS CAUTIOUS
However, Obama does not appear to be feeling much pressure over Syria from the American people.

In this week's Reuters/Ipsos survey of 1,448 people, just 27 percent said they supported his decision to send arms to some Syrian rebels; 47 percent were opposed. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points for each number.

About 11 percent said Obama should do more to intervene in Syria than sending arms to the rebels, while 89 percent said he should not help the rebels.

Obama is considering a range of options. The most popular option among Americans: not intervening in Syria at all. That option is backed by 37 percent of Americans, according to the poll.

Less popular options include air strikes to help the rebels (supported by 12 percent of Americans); imposing a "no-fly" zone over Syria that would ground Assad's air force (11 percent); funding a multi-national invasion of Syria (9 percent), and invading Syria with US troops (4 percent).

Deborah Powell, 58, of California, said she initially opposed any involvement by the United States but now supports arming the rebels.

"I was against any involvement after watching a (television) program that said if we give (rebels) the weapons they could turn them against us, but I think now we need to give them the weapons," Powell said.

Asked what changed her mind, she said: "What's going on over there is terrible." However, Powell praised Obama's wariness toward getting the United States involved in another war.

Some Americans believe the use of chemical weapons has changed the game in Syria, and that the United States should get involved as long as other countries did, too.

Jonathan Adams, 56, of California, said that he was "happy that we didn't get involved from the start and I'm glad Obama was cautious. But I think we have gotten past the point of where we should've been involved in some way."

He said reports of chemical weapons use "went way past the line."

** To see the Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll on whether the US should intervene in Syria if chemical weapons are used there, go to http://polling.reuters.com/#!response/TM43/type/day/dates/20130531-current


Letter to the Editor
Gar Smith

BERKELEY, CA (August 28, 2013) -- When a horrible crime is committed, what do you do?

Typically, you conduct an investigation to determine who was responsible. You then issue an arrest warrant and put the accused on trial.

The current US leadership has a different approach. The White House claims it already knows who used chemical agents to kill hundreds of innocent Syrians, insists there's no time to waste on investigations, and prepares to bomb the bejesus out of the accused.

Why? "To make sure they don't repeat the offense." (Apparently, nothing enforces civility like a hellstorm of cruise missiles.)

But wait. According to UN investigators, it's the Syrian rebels who have a history of mounting attacks with crude chemical weapons. Given Obama's "red line" warning, wouldn't it be suicidal for the Assad regime to resort to such an attack? The rebels, on the other hand, would benefit by such a horrendous spectacle – if it could be blamed on Assad.

This wouldn't be the first time a "false flag" has been waved to mislead the nation into war. Remember the Maine? The Gulf of Tonkin? Iraq's WMDs?

If the US has concrete evidence that Assad's government committed this atrocity, let the White House submit it to the International Criminal Court. The ICC could then issue a warrant for Assad's arrest and put him on trial in The Hague.

Dropping bombs on a foreign country has nothing to do with justice. Unfortunately, the practice of "dropping bombs on foreign heads" has come to define US foreign policy.

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